Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar on Thursday reiterated that the government would win Friday’s no-trust vote, ANI reported. The minister also criticised former Congress President Sonia Gandhi a day after she hinted that the government may not have the numbers to defeat the ruling coalition.
“Sonia ji’s maths is weak,” Ananth Kumar told reporters outside Parliament. “They had calculated similarly in 1996. We know what happened then. Their calculation is wrong yet again.” Kumar is probably referring to the events of 1999, when Gandhi had said the Congress had “272 [MPs] and more are coming”, but the party did not have the numbers to form the government. As the Congress was unable to form a coalition government in 1999, then President KR Narayanan had dissolved the Parliament and called for elections again. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee remained caretaker prime minister till the next elections, which his party won.
On Thursday, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which does not have any member in the Lok Sabha, said it supports the no-trust motion. “In spite of having no option to vote for no-confidence motion in Parliament, DMK supports the no confidence motion brought by the TDP,” said the party’s Working President MK Stalin. “We request the AIADMK also to support no-confidence motion in Parliament.”
Meanwhile, the Telugu Desam Party’s legislator JC Diwakar Reddy threatened to skip Parliament on Friday, but his party chief N Chandrababu Naidu later convinced him to attend, PTI reported. Reddy had earlier said he is “fed up” with the Centre and his party’s government in Andhra Pradesh, NDTV reported.
The Telugu Desam Party, a former constituent of the National Democratic Alliance, had served the notice of the no-trust motion to the Lok Sabha secretariat on Tuesday. It issued a three-line whip the following day, asking its Lok Sabha MPs to be present in the House on July 19 and July 20 after Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Majahan accepted the motion, which has been backed by 11 other Opposition parties.
“I am not going to attend the Parliament session, you can say that I violated the party whip,” Reddy told ANI. “I am fed up with the whole political system. Right now I am in my native place in Anantapur and will come in front of the media with my logic within a week.”
The BJP has 274 MPs in the Lok Sabha – six more than the required majority of 268 – and is confident of defeating the motion. On Wednesday, Ananth Kumar said the party’s allies such as the Shiv Sena, the Akali Dal, Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party, Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) and others would support the BJP, reported the Hindustan Times.
“The NDA will be united in vote against the motion,” Kumar said. “You will see that even parties outside the NDA will give support to the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. When voting takes place at 6 pm on Friday, it will be NDA plus.”
On Wednesday, BJP’s Chief Whip in the Lok Sabha Anurag Thakur said he had issued a three-line whip to the party’s legislators. The party has reportedly asked its allies to issue similar whips, considering that two BJP MPs – Kirti Azad and Shatrughan Sinha – have expressed displeasure over the party’s functioning.
The Opposition parties brought in the no-confidence motion after protesting against the government on matters such as mob lynchings, atrocities against women and Dalits, and dilution of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
In March, a no-confidence motion moved by the Telugu Desam Party and the YSR Congress in the Budget Session could not be debated after the House was adjourned several times. Both the parties are demanding special category status for Andhra Pradesh. Leaders from both the parties had disrupted proceedings in Parliament throughout the session. The row even caused the TDP to walk out of the National Democratic Alliance in May.